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For Precious & Wild, Plants Take on a Noble Elegance

In her home workshop in Paris’ 20th arrondissement, Karine Perillat combines vegetation and retro design, “playing with the precious and taming the wild” in a universe-inspired by 19th century curiosity cabinets.

Perillat’s Precious & Wild concept was born from a simple, brilliant idea: give plants a repurposed container that was discovered in an antique store or flea market.

After working as a cultural journalist for twenty years, Perillat embarked on a new career of interior design by focusing on her two passions: flea markets and plants. On her preciousandwild.net site, she proposes elegant, sophisticated, and/or off-beat plant creations that she names and brings to life with a touch of humor and playful references. Each invention is a mischievous wink at aesthetic concepts like the history of painting, literature, or pop culture: “I use first names like ‘Arvo’, an homage to composer Arvo Pärt; ‘Champagne Supernova’, the name of a song by Oasis; ‘Ceci n’est pas un Cactus’ refers to Magritte; and ‘L’origine du Monde’ is a twist on Courbet’s iconic painting–this time with a phallic-shaped plant!”

Photo: Precious and Wild

Perillat’s creativity functions by impulse and works in stages. First, she unearths and carefully selects objects in flea markets, brocantes, or antique dealers. Back home she cleans up her loot, repairs each piece if necessary, removes the patina, and drills a hole in the bottom for drainage. Then she offers a second life to milk jugs, gravy bowls, teapots, cups, and ice buckets by placing plants with graphic looks into the vessels until she finds the perfect combination for a story. Recycling the container and using organic soil are defining characteristics of her approach to sustainable design. As for her choice of plants, they all meet two criteria: “I choose them for their sculptural form. Sometimes even the root can be interesting– especially for something like ficus ginseng, which almost has human shape. Since many people don’t necessarily have a green thumb, I use plants that need little care like cacti, succulents, tuberous plants, or perennials.”

Precious and Wild

Precious and Wild

Once the objects have been created, Perillat sets them in a decor-like a vanitas: “I photograph them in front of old artwork like a 17th century portrait of Saint Sebastien, contemporary pieces from artists I know, or even objects like a buffalo skull… I adore dense, baroque universes, but sometimes I get inspiration from references like cowboys or vikings!”

Perillat makes sure to offer creations at a price point that is “affordable to anyone based on their means” (her prices range from $15 to $50). She also provides customer service that consists of giving plant advice by e-mail or telephone when the owner sends photos. (“I also do special orders if someone gives me a sentimental object to work with,” she notes.) Once the plants have been adopted by her clients, Perillat carefully wraps them and often delivers them herself– a delightful and enduringly home-spun great way to share each new wild saga.

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